The issue of lower than expected mathematics achievement is a concern to education leaders and policymakers at all levels of the U.S. PK-12 education system. The purpose of this quantitative, quasi-experimental study was to determine if there was a measurable difference in achievement on the mathematics section of the state test for students (n = 121) from a middle school in New Jersey who received computer-assisted instruction (CAI) in drill and practice computation related to the eighth grade mathematics curriculum standards compared to students (n = 163) who did not receive the CAI. The results suggest that the CAI intervention did not improve student achievement significantly (p > .05). In two categories, students who received the CAI performed significantly lower than their peers in the comparison group. Students in the control group who scored in the 25th percentile on the seventh grade CTB/McGraw Hill TerraNova pretest outperformed their peers in the treatment group on the New Jersey Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment (GEPA) mathematics section. Likewise, Asian students in the control group outperformed all other students in treatment and control groups. The results fit within the existing knowledge on the subject of computer-assisted instruction and add support to the idea that practitioners should evaluate curriculum and instruction interventions for demonstrated success before they bring them into the learning environment.
The issue of lower than expected mathematics achievement is a persistent worry to some education leaders and policymakers at all levels of the U.S. PK- 12 education system. The 1999 Third International Mathematics and Science Study Report (TIMSS-R) showed an example of the reported weaknesses of mathematics achievement of U.S. students compared to students in other industrialized countries. Grade 8 students in the United States ranked lower than 14 of the 38 participating nations (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2000). In addition, 15-year-old students from the United States ranked between 16th and 23rd of 31 countries that participated in the mathematics portion of the 2000 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) administration (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development [OECD], 2004). On the national level, the 2005 (NCES, 2005) administration of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)1 mathematics test indicated only 30% of grade 8 students scored "at or above proficient." While the validity of the NAEP achievement levels has not yet been demonstrated, the results influence policymakers. These achievement statistics raise concerns for some education leaders and policymakers about the mathematics achievement of U.S. middle school students.
Middle school students in New Jersey are not immune to this issue. New Jersey had a greater percentage of its students score proficient (30%) on the 2005 grade 8 NAEP mathematics test than the national average (24%). However, grade 8 NAEP New Jersey scale-score performance gaps exist between subgroups such as students eligible for free or reducedprice lunch and students not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; 262 scale-score points and 292 scale-score points, respectively. This is a growing issue across the country. For example, the Southern Education Foundation (2007) reported that the percentage of economically disadvantaged students now outnumbers non-economically disadvantaged students in southern states. Childhood poverty rates range from a low of 20% in New Hampshire to a high of 84% in Louisiana. The expanding scourge of childhood poverty across the nation, and the corresponding negative influence on achievement, requires education leaders to use interventions with demonstrated records of success.
Review of Related Literature
Computer-Assisted Instruction and Student Achievement in Middle School Mathematics
We reviewed the results of experimental and quasi-experimental studies on the effect of computerassisted instruction (CAI) on middle school student achievement in mathematics. …